Rousseau's insistence that his life and his writings are inseparable is one of the many ways in which he changes cultural history. He is the creator of the modern genre of autobiography, and the first writer to attend closely to childhood and to the formation of his own sexuality. He is also a leading figure of the French Enlightenment, the philosopher of nature, a major political thinker, a prime theorist of education, the proponent of a new religious sensibility and author of a hugely influential novel. Celebrated and reviled in his own time, he will be later adopted by the French Revolution as the martyr of virtue and by Romanticism as the hero of feeling. Originating perhaps both the idea of social determinism (we are what society …

3689 words

Citation: Howells, Robin. "Jean-Jacques Rousseau". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 14 June 2003 [, accessed 26 February 2024.]

3865 Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.